Need help using the muscadine crop
- danna Sep 21, 2005 03:13 PM
I don't want to make wine, and I'm very, very afraid of making jelly. I threw away my juicer this year because it was completely worthless (Krups).
So, any ideas on how to use my crop this year? I think I'm going to have a pretty good batch. Perhaps syrup for waffles? Any savory dishes? Any tips on how to separate the juice and pulp from the seeds and skin? Any tips on using the skin? I think the skins could be delicious if I chopped them in small pieces, but I'm not sure what to do after that.
Help greatly appreciated.
Oh, BTW, my dog is obsessed with muscadines and stands next to me while I pick, hoping to be fed a grape, or just the skin. I have seen him eat a few off the vines, but he looks around guiltily...he knows they aren't meant for him!
I don't know about muscadines but I make grape juice from wine grapes by blending stemmed batches in the food processor and then pressing through a sieve.
You don't need a juicer, you need what's called a chinois, or "china cap" - one of those conical strainers with the tapered wooden pestle. Mine, gotten at a flea market for fifteen bucks, has three removable legs, but I think the ones that hook onto the side of a pot might be more useful. You can get them in different mesh sizes, depending on how much pulp you do or don't want, and they come in handy for a whole lot of stuff besides jelly or juice making. Mine of course was a find and a bargain, but I think discount restaurant supply stores and some online sources have them for under $50. Don't know where you are - with muscadines in the back yard it obviously ain't California - but if it's anyplace rural with a selection of "country" antique malls around I'll bet you could find one as cheap as I did. The wooden pestles tend to get lost, so expect to pay a bit extra if the strainer has one with it.
You take unwashed, organic table grape bunches and leave them in a cool and dry place for two months out of direct sunlight. Putting them on racks is probably ideal. I spread them out on newspapers on the floor of the guest room and lost some to a black mold that developed. Some also dried out faster turning into raisins. The ones that made it through withered a bit and the juices and flavors concentrate. The flesh turned into a quivering jelly-like consistency. It was a wonderful thing to have near-fresh local grapes at Christmas time. I think we appreciated them more than we did in the fall when we had so much of the harvest bounty around us. We served them as part of the traditional 13 desserts.